190816 india supreme court
Supreme Court of India Image Credit: PTI

New Delhi:  The Supreme Court on Wednesday granted the Central government four weeks' time to file a reply on the petitions regarding the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and indicated setting up a Constitution Bench to hear the pleas.

The top court did not put a stay on the newly enacted law, as demanded by some petitions.

A Bench of Chief Justice of India, S A Bobde, Justices S Abdul Nazeer and Sanjiv Khanna passed the order while hearing more than 140 petitions challenging or supporting the newly amended citizenship law.

The law fast-tracks the process of granting citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians who fled religious persecution in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan and took refuge in India on or before December 31, 2014.

During the course of hearing, Chief Justice Bobde said, "We may ask the government to issue some temporary permits for the time being."

Attorney General K K Venugopal asked the apex court to freeze filing of further petitions, as over 140 petitions have been filed and others who wish to be heard, may file intervention applications. "Centre has prepared a preliminary affidavit that will be filed today," he further said.

'CAA will change demography of Assam'

Senior advocate Vikas Singh said the new law will change the demography of Assam as it will grant citizenship to "Hindu infiltrators".

Appearing for Assam Advocate Association, who has challenged CAA, Vikas Singh said he is hoping that the Apex Court would stay the Act, which triggered protests in several parts of the country including northeastern states.

"Nobody can stop the state from passing any resolution and even some states have said they are not going to implement CAA. Then the only option left with the Centre will be to dismiss the state government saying that it is breaking down the constitutional machinery," he told ANI.

"But how many state governments they will dismiss as Opposition is in power in many states comparatively to BJP-ruled states. Such a situation will compel the Central government to rethink the issue," Singh said.

The advocate said that there was a "hidden agenda" behind the new Act.

Patal Kanya Jamatia of People's Front Of Tripura President, who filed the petition against the Citizenship law said: "We filed the case in December last year. Today is the first hearing. We have a problem, illegal Bangladeshi migrants, in Tripura. We are strongly against CAA as it will give citizenship legally to illegal Bangladeshi migrants. It threatens national security."

Security tightened outside SC

Security was tightened outside the Supreme Court on Wednesday when hearings related to Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) stated.

Before the hearing began, Attorney General KK Venugopal said: "Atmosphere has to be peaceful and calm, especially in the Supreme Court."

The Attorney General told CJI Bobde that this court has to issue some direction on who can come to the court, some rules are to be framed.

He also said that the Supreme Courts of the United States and Pakistan have regulations for visitors inside the courtroom.

The petitioners who have challenged the CAA are Indian Union Muslim League, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, RJD leader Manoj Jha, Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra, AIMIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi, Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, All Assam Students Union (AASU), Peace Party, SFI, and CPI among others.